Slow downloads are one of those annoying little problems in life where we just want them to get along already.
When something as small as a movie or song from Spotify takes forever to load, you get frustrated pretty quickly.
And if you have other things to do, like work, you don’t really need to let anything slow down by some dumb video streaming app.
There could also be more serious issues here than simple slowness – if you keep seeing “Internet congestion” messages every few minutes (or even seconds), it means your ISP has been hit with a large amount of data coming in through their servers at once, which causes temporary delay until they deal with it. Things like this often happen during peak times, but can happen when traffic increases.
In short, slowdowns aren’t always due to bad apps. Here’s How To Fix Why Your PC Is Slowing Down When Downloading…
Is your internet connection to blame?
This probably won’t apply to everyone reading this article, but I’ll get to it anyway because chances are at least someone reading this will experience what I mean.
People tend to assume that slow downloads are caused by poor Wi-Fi reception, but this is not true. If you’ve ever experienced a Wi-Fi signal dropout, you know that sometimes it doesn’t matter whether your router is set up properly or not. In fact, most people don’t think about using crappy wireless connections without thinking about it.
The same phenomenon applies to slower speeds when connecting via a cable instead of via Wi-Fi. The problem is actually entirely in your home network and probably has to do with having too much data flowing over your LAN cables/routers at once or simply overloading the server itself.
It sounds complicated, but if you find that your downloads are slower when connected via Ethernet vs. Wi-Fi, it’s almost certainly because your router can’t handle the amount of data traveling between your devices and the service provider’s servers. So try to reduce the number of services and applications running on your computer, especially those that stream media content like Netflix or Hulu, and try to reduce the number of devices connected to Wi-Fi.
Also be aware of possible setting changes made by ISPs, especially with regard to Quality of Services (QoS) features. It allows providers to prioritize certain types of data over others. For example, maybe you live far away from your usual office and therefore prefer to use the company’s high-speed fiber line rather than the regular DSL lines. For these preferences to translate into actual performance, QOS rules must be enabled on both sides—yours and the companies’.
Have you recently installed software that may be slowing down your system?
Sometimes new software installations themselves can wreak havoc on our computer’s ability to run smoothly.
A recent study found that users tended to experience delays after installing new programs, although no clear reason was given. But before you blindly uninstall everything, see if updating existing applications helps improve your overall system performance.
You can find out for yourself by going to Task Manager under Control Panel & Administrative Tools & Performance Monitor. Then click on the Processes tab. Find the process that consumes most of your CPU power and right click on it, select Properties. Scroll down to Startup Impact and see if anything seems overdone compared to normal usage.
Or find out which processes are taking up memory space. Click the Memory tab. Highlight each item individually and press Ctrl+W to open the search field. Type “process name” + “memory” and choose the relevant result. Right click on that process and choose End Task to end it completely. Repeat this step with the top culprits, making sure to close only the windows showing above 50% and below. When you are done, restart your PC. See if that improves things.
Are there too many programs open on your desktop?
Desktop clutter can definitely affect your downloads. Try closing unnecessary background programs and cleaning up icons in your Start menu using File Explorer. If you uncheck the Show Active Window Previews option under System Preferences -& Display -& Window List, you can also hide inactive programs from view. This makes it easier to spot large folders like Downloads or Documents, as you now have to scroll horizontally through dozens of minimized icons.
Have you installed malware?
Malware can be a major source of slowdown, especially ad-related trackers that constantly bombard us with ads and popups. Fortunately, there are tools available to help scan for malicious software – and yes, sometimes viruses can still get on PCs despite antivirus protection.
To test, type CMD in the search bar of your home screen and select Run as administrator. Enter sfc /scannow and press enter.
Wait for the command prompt to finish scanning your drive(s); if infections are discovered, follow the prompts to manually resolve them. Don’t worry, neither SFC nor MalwareBytes remove infected items automatically. On the contrary, it can lead to worse results.
Is Windows Update causing problems?
Windows updates are important, but sometimes they can affect performance, usually due to driver conflicts. Even minor updates can cause major headaches. Therefore, Microsoft recommends waiting two days after critical updates before applying non-critical patches.
Anyway, let’s just say you feel compelled to update now and can’t wait. Keep in mind that if you did receive a critical update, rebooting your device afterward shouldn’t hurt. However, if you haven’t received it yet, please wait. You never know what else might come along later.
So what’s wrong with updating today?
First, check if Windows thinks drivers are out of date. Press Win + X and choose Device Manager. Expand the Network Adapters section and double check that your adapter shows Status as Not Connected. Now right click on that icon and choose Update Driver Software…. Choose Browse my computer for driver software…, navigate to the folder containing your new drivers, and then double-click the installation file named SetupDiag.exe.
Once downloaded, run the resulting executable file and select Troubleshooting Toolbox.
Under the Hardware Support category, choose Diagnostics. After choosing the appropriate tests, click the Next button and let Diags analyze your hardware.
When it’s done, it should show detailed information about detected errors. Keep a copy of this text and send it to whoever provided you with the defective drivers. Hopefully they will replace them as soon as possible. Otherwise you have to dig deeper.
One last tip: make sure you haven’t disabled automatic driver installation by accident. Go to Settings -& Update & Security -& Activation Lock -& Additional Options and enable Automatic Driver Installation. Otherwise, you will have to manually install the drivers after each upgrade.
Have you already tried opening another browser?
Browser extensions are great for improving your browsing experience, but sometimes they can get in the way of smooth operation. There is a chance that extension developers had this situation in mind when creating their products, allowing you to disable individual add-ons.
First, check which browsers you usually use. Simultaneously open Chrome or Firefox tabs and perform subsequent actions such as clicking links or scrolling through pages. Do the same with multiple tabs in Opera or Edge. If none of them are left behind, proceed with disabling the add-on functionality one by one. One of the easiest ways to do this is to press the Alt + F1 keys together. Another method is to find the respective options in the Extensions panel at chrome://extensions/, firefox://addons/ or opera://extensions/. Check back later to determine if there have been any improvements since then.
How about installing an alternative antivirus?
As long as your security suite is working properly, removing unwanted programs and replacing antivirus suites shouldn’t cause significant delays. Nevertheless, if you want to give Avira a shot, that’s fine. All you need to do is avast! website, sign in with your account information and click Download. Select Installer (.EXE) and save the installer somewhere on your hard drive. Restart your PC and voila! installed.
Note: If you plan on moving to Avast permanently, you should read reviews of several free alternatives to Avast Pro Antivirus.
It’s time to reboot!
It is always recommended to restart your computer after making a major change, such as installing a new operating system. Sometimes rebooting alone can fix otherwise unsolvable problems.
Try rebooting your device and repeat steps 1-7 if necessary. Or better yet, reboot directly into Safe Mode using the F5 key combination. This boots your system normally, except it prevents third-party modules from loading on startup (including virus scanners). From there, you can continue troubleshooting if necessary.